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Bea Alonzo Is Honoring Her Pain and Rising Beyond

As we enter a new decade, Bea Alonzo is ready to reclaim herself and face the rest of the world head on and unbothered.

by Jamina F. Nitura | Jan 4, 2020

“What I’ve realized is that sometimes you have to embrace your demons, and embrace your vulnerable side, before soaring above it.”

 

The sun stays unforgiving when we drive Bea Alonzo to a vast, open field sandwiched between the city and what feels like rural nowhere. Fully covered in head-to-toe Bottega Veneta—a black leather turtleneck and burgundy trousers—the actress has no qualms over plodding around untamed grass time and again, if only to get the perfect shot, though she bathes vulnerable in sweltering temperatures throughout. It’s part of the job, after all.

One can’t help but think: This must be the celebrity culture—prying eyes, like relentless scorching sunlight seeping into your armor, following your every choice, your every thought, your every heartbreak. Still, you move along to the next script, the next role, the next story to tell. There’s a repetition to it that gets tiring, and having successfully played the industry for nearly two decades, it’s no wonder Bea has thought of quitting show biz.

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Perched on a makeup chair after a whole day of shooting, she admits often finding herself asking, “Is this all there is?” She mentions maybe leaving it all and flying off to a foreign country to pursue an entirely different vocation in hopes of something more. It’s not, however, until the bevy of achievements under her name that start rolling in late 2019, does she prove herself wrong. That to break the tired cycle isn’t as much escaping it, but actively reaching beyond.

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On the consequences of a public life

It’s safe to say that when it comes to the controversies that have plagued her these past few months, Bea is an open book. It’s never brought up outright. No one, least of all her, feels the need to, when the sensationalized breakup—or lack thereof—had been so unceremoniously feasted on by the entire nation. Such is the nature of the millennial term ‘ghosting,’ a.k.a. being left behind without so much as a word. It's as if everyone is in on the joke—everyone but you, that is.  “Alam mo naman 'yung nangyari,” she simply says at one point in the interview.

It’s quite possibly every actor’s worst nightmare: their art taking a backseat to their personal affairs.

Marred by rumors of cryptic messages, third parties, and an apparent account on a breakup that, to the best of her knowledge, never happened, Bea’s name had been heavy-laden with commotion and controversy. There's headline after headline dissecting and speculating on her grief. It’s quite possibly every actor’s worst nightmare: their art taking a backseat to their personal affairs. However, for Bea—who, at this moment, conducts herself with an air of what can only be described as unbothered—the grind continues. After all, in a narrative that's rightfully all about Bea, other people's names stay irrelevant.

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Knit sweater, trousers, and pumps; all BOTTEGA VENETA, Greenbelt 4

As an artist impassioned to tell stories of great impact—evidenced by her recent projects that tackle bullying and mental illness—Bea proves where her true devotion lies. Buried in all the nonsensical hullabaloo placed on her person, she soon manages to turn the fanfare and clamor onto matters of actual importance: her craft, more specifically, penetrating the proverbial entertainment glass ceiling with Asian cinema. It's the only act of 'breaking' now worth her time.

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Breaking into the International Scene

Arguably a poster girl for the modern Filipina leading lady, Bea’s commercial viability draws in cinema crowds like sheep flocking to a familiar face. With her tenure in the business though, she’s not naïve. The actress is fully aware of the formula, ceremoniously soaked in mainstream flare, that earns a movie millions. Case in point: her December 2019 buddy drama with real-life BFF, Angelica Panganiban, Unbreakable, that garnered a staggering P100 million in the box office on its first week alone.

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It’s not hard to read the fine print. Designed by a big shot production company, built with a relatable, commonplace plot, and a slew of well-loved stars—including Gloria Diaz, Richard Gutierrez, and Ian Veneracion—the film’s practically poised for success. As evidenced by its box office earnings, it’s easy to digest relatable movies like this that effortlessly win over packed cinema crowds. 


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However, the same can’t be said for unconventional stories like Mikhail Red’s provocative, convent school horror thriller, Eerie, where Bea plays a concerned guidance councilor uncovering a string of reported haunted incidents in the aftermath of a student's suicide. In fact, when asked for her initial expectations for the film, Bea admits to having none at all. “I was ready for it to be a flop,” she tells Preview. “I mostly work on mainstream films so when I agreed to doing this, ‘di ko akalain na susuportahan ng ganun kalaki ng Filipino audience. I seriously thought to myself na hindi 'to kikita, but I still wanted to do it because I wanted to work with Mik and Ma’am Charo [Santos-Concho].”

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As it turns out, much like a third act plot twist, all Eerie needed was an unexpected catalyst to surprise Bea out of her predictions, and subsequently change her perceptions amid plateauing in her current acting pursuits. After being picked up by online streaming giant, Netflix, the film in question turned from under-the-radar local horror screener to viral sleep stealer, rendering viewers haunted and clinging to their nightlights. 


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Shirtdress, handbag, and pumps; all BOTTEGA VENETA, Greenbelt 4

With its newfound global exposure, Eerie quickly piqued the interest of significant foreign titles like Elle.com, People.com, and the Dailymail UK, effectively flinging Bea’s name into the international film scene. Most recently, the phenomenon landed her a spot in Variety’s coveted annual Asian Stars: Up Next list, a.k.a. a handpicked selection of Asian on-screen talent poised to break ground in the entertainment industry at a global capacity. The achievement saw her meeting, mingling, and exchanging ideas with ambitious foreign talents, like Dehli Crime director Richie Mehta and film producer Todd Brown, at the 4th International Film Festival and Awards Macao.

"I feel more driven. I’ve never felt so energetic to do a lot of different movies. Now, ayoko mag pahinga. I just want to go out there and do as many films as I can."

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The culmination of Eerie’s success, to say the least, was serendipitous, inducing in Bea a newfound vigor to push her acting career into international waters and heights unknown. “It changed my perception of the business. Parang feeling ko mas malaki na siya, mas possible na siya. So ngayon, I have more energy to conquer the world at 32. I feel more driven. I’ve never felt so energetic to do a lot of different movies. Now, ayoko mag pahinga. I just want to go out there and do as many films as I can.”

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With a year undeniably marked by mounds of overwhelming achievement, for most actors, the uphill climb to eclipse their past merits with a case of more, is steep. After all, no one wants to fall stale in the saddle, or trickle away into obscurity following a good triumphant run. However, confident in her repertoire of box office hits, Bea remains unbothered by the idea, setting her sights instead for the big leagues abroad. 

“I don’t feel pressured anymore. Okay na ako. Honestly, my goal is to be able to go to the major festivals like in Venice, Berlin, Cannes, and Toronto. Yun siguro yung mas gusto ko para sa sarili ko ngayon, because that’s a different ball game. I would also love to get nominated one day,” she explains. “Wala na yung pressure na parang I need to do well in the box office. I’m very thankful though na yung mga Pinoy talaga tinatangkilik lahat ng movies ko, but I’d love to also try doing different films with different filmmakers.”

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Leather turtleneck, trousers, slim belt, and flat sandals, all BOTTEGA VENETA, Greenbelt 4


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Reaching Beyond and Moving Forward

Brewing with a palpable restless energy for endeavors bigger and beyond her, the credentials to Bea’s multi-hyphenate status only continues to flourish. Adding to actress, host, singer, and the internet’s patron saint of moving on, are restaurant owner and vlogger. “I really wanted to get into the food business,” Bea, also a culinary graduate herself, says when asked about her new franchise, Dean and DeLuca, an upscale American café originating from New York. “A friend of my friend asked me if I wanted try getting into the food business. I said yes because sabi ko nga gusto ko matutunan. I [wasn't] a restaurant owner but I would love to learn.” The café, of which Bea talks about with clear pride, now has a branch in Quezon City, franchised alongside her four partners, with another one in Greenhills coming soon early this year.


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Where Bea admits to fostering a marketing role for herself in Dean and DeLuca, she chooses to nurture her instinctive creative spirit on her YouTube account, aptly named By Bea. Her current library consists of intimate, in-depth looks into her day-to-day, from meeting her family, to behind the scenes at red carpet events, to visual travel diaries. There is, however, one outlier that sticks out like a sore thumb both content-wise and view count-wise. Already currently at one million views, the short, spoken word film, Muli, captures a contemplative Bea ambling about in the woods while her voiceover waxes poetic on moving forward from an all-consuming heartbreak—a topic she’s publicly proven to be adept at over the past few months. 

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Knit dress, shoulder pouch tote, and sandals; all BOTTEGA VENETA, Greenbelt 4

Unlike in most fairy tales with damsels in distress similarly always wandering lost in forests, here, the saving comes from one’s own. Sana unahin mo naman ako, Bea asks of herself this time around. “The whole time in my past relationship [I wasn’t putting myself first,]” she reveals. “Sometimes iniisip ko ‘it wasn’t really your partner’s doing, it was your own,’ and feeling ko it’s one thing that I’ve learned not to do. Not to over compromise. It’s not just putting yourself first, but loving yourself unconditionally. Somehow when you know how much you’re worth, you’ll just naturally do it for yourself, and your partner will do that for you as well. You will attract people who will respect you and who will see you as someone who’s worthy.”

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"I thought losing someone that I really loved would kill me when I was in that relationship. And when I lost him... Actually, I’ve never felt more alive.”


The film, then, is a way of healing for the actress. She describes moving into 2020 as having gained her power back. “I lost it for a while. Now, I’m rediscovering myself,” explains Bea. “Ngayon parang feeling ko nabuhay ulit ako. I thought losing someone that I really loved would kill me when I was in that relationship. And when I lost him... Actually, I’ve never felt more alive.” Cathartic as it is, Bea makes it clear that getting to this point meant allowing herself to do one constant thing in the latter half of 2019: what she calls honoring her pain. Sentimental as it sounds—or ma-hugot, as most Filipinos like to call it—genuine sentiment means reaching far back into a vulnerable and visceral place, an act Bea's now well-versed at.

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For someone like Bea, scorched in sunlight, under the public eye, to rip out and brandish her lesions in her hands, yet still come out a better woman, is essentially a show of strength. “What I’ve realized is that sometimes you have to embrace your demons, and embrace your vulnerable side, before soaring above it,” Bea tells Preview. “Hold on to it, savor it, endure it. After that, you’ll be okay.” 


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There’s an image of Bea clad in a sheer white dress, near the end of Muli, where she’s suspended under water. More floating than drowning, she allows the ocean to hold her below, if only for a little while. Before long, with no fight or protest, the currents lift her up. She rises then and breaks through the surface, light as a feather.


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Produced by Marj Ramos

Photographed by Colin Dancel

Art Direction by Bacs Arcebal

Co-produced and Written by Jam Nitura

Fashion Direction and Styling by Yanna Lopez

Beauty Direction by Nicole Arcano

Makeup by Robbie Piñera

Hair by JA Feliciano

Shoot Assistant: Teresita Gabat

Shot on Location at UP College of Fine Arts.

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